The Penis Envy Mushroom Strain.
Penis Envy (PE) magic mushrooms are a quite unique & interesting variety of Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, with an equally unique & interesting history. This “strain” is colloquially known as the most potent Psilocybe Cubensis magic mushroom variety, but unfortunately due to the current legality surrounding Shrooms there are no publicly accessible test results to confirm exactly how much more potent this variety is, or if differing ratios of psychotropic compounds are present in Penis Envy varieties, in addition to higher concentrations.
Several anecdotal reports have claimed that the experience elicited by consuming Penis Envy mushrooms is much more intense, visual, and euphoric than other magic mushrooms of the Cubensis species, and some have even analogized the experience to that which is elicited by other considerably “stronger” psychedelics like DMT or LSD. It’s theorized that this is due to both a higher concentration, & a higher ratio of Psilocin to Psilocybin. PE mushrooms also have a fascinating origin story that has become somewhat of a legend in the psychedelic space, involving several high-profile names (like Terrence Mckenna), international smuggling, genetic mutations, prescription drug dealing, robbery, and murder!
Additionally, they are notoriously difficult to cultivate, as they possess characteristics like an underdeveloped cap and often the lack of a velum (veil) separating cap and stem, which result in light/ineffective sporulation. This difficulty-barrier to Penis Envy cultivation, along with the intensified experience that this variety provides has made them especially rare and desirable. As Psilocybin mushrooms gain popularity Penis Envy is sure to become known as the preeminent variety to choose if you are looking for an exceptionally euphoric and distinctly visual mushroom experience.
Penis Envy Shrooms growing in the PEM facility
Penis Envy Mushroom History.
Legend has it that Penis Envy originated from an exceptionally large and healthy mushroom found deep in the Amazon Rainforest, by fabled ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants, Terrence McKenna.
McKenna is said to have, with the help of indigenous guides, found a “colossal” patch of mushrooms growing deep in the rainforest, and took several spore prints from this culture. At the time (mid 1970’s) Magic mushrooms had already been made illegal in most countries by the 1971 UN Psychotropic Substances Act, and although Mushroom Spores were not actually prohibited by the Psychotropic Substances Act (as they contain no psilocybin or psilocin - the active compounds in magic mushrooms), explaining this to a Customs agent was not something Mckenna wanted to do, so he simply sandwiched the innocuous purple-black prints between two microscopy slides, labeled the slides with a rare agaricus genus name, and took his chances. Luckily this smuggling-operation went off without a hitch, and soon Terrence was back in his home state of Colorado. He soon began cultivating mushrooms from his prints, and sent several prints from the exceptional amazonian specimen to many of his ethno-mycologist colleagues.
One of these colleagues was Stephen Pollock, a medical doctor who had a passion for psychedelic mushrooms, and was 40 years ahead of his time in believing that they were “the most effective medicine” for the treatment of several psychological conditions. Pollock was also the first person to document the existence of Psilocybe Tampanensis (along with several other species). P. Tampanensis is a truffle-like species which are best described as halfway between mycelium and mushroom, and have significantly higher mycelial psilocybin/psilocin concentration (as high as 0.6% by dry weight - almost comparable to the 0.8% average for Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms). Although Pollock is quite unknown, rarely credited for the several innovations that he contributed to human understanding of Psilocybin mushrooms, and was largely forgotten about after his 1981 murder, he can rest vindicated by the fact that the contributions that he risked his freedom and his life to make were not in vain, as both Psilocybe Tampanensis and Penis Envy Cubensis are now cultivated throughout the world, and are recognized as two of the most desirable Psilocybe varieties.
Back to the history of Penis Envy mushrooms, Pollock received a spore print from the exceptional Amazon mushroom culture from Mckenna, and set about propagating and refining this culture on an agar medium. For several months/years (it’s not known exactly how long) he performed culture isolation, narrowing and strengthening the genetic profile with every generation, until one day a large, odd looking mutation occurred.
This mutation towered above other mushrooms in its immediate vicinity, and was distinctly identifiable by an exceptionally thick & dense stem, and pale underdeveloped cap. Additionally this mushroom differed from all other known cubensis varieties because it lacked what’s called in mycological terms a “velum” or veil, which separates the cap and stem of the mushroom, and serves to hold spores until the mushroom is fully mature. Pollock immediately harvested this mushroom, sterilized a surgical scalpel, sliced the mushroom longitudinally to expose fresh inner tissue, and was able to propagate a tissue sample on agar*. The mushrooms that resulted from his propagation all had similar characteristics to the original specimen, and thus the Penis Envy strain was born. *agar is a gelatinous medium used for the culturing of fungi & bacteria
Penis Envy Mushroom Genetics in Various formats. Left - Agar Culture, Middle - Mushroom Spawn, Right - Dried Mushroom
Now the interesting portion of the story (the part involving conspiracy & murder) begins.
Pollock, aside from his medical career, had an intense desire to further research, and expand human understanding of Psychoactive mushrooms. He was determined to build the first legal mushroom cultivation & research laboratory, and estimated that this facility would cost US $2,000,000 to build. Despite a philanthropic motivation & ultimate goal of helping people suffering from mental health issues, he was willing to use any means necessary in order to generate the funds necessary to build his “superlab”.
In 1979, Pollock and fellow mycophile (mushroom lover) Michael Forbes founded a company called “Hidden Creek” which sold P. Tampanensis Sclerotia (AKA magic truffles) and mushroom growing kits. The partners intelligently placed advertisements in several high-profile magazines (most notably “The High Times”) and within one year had become the largest distributor of magic mushroom products in the world! Hidden Creek was by no means the first company to sell magic mushroom genetics, however the company separated itself from competitors by offering live mushroom cultures instead of mushroom spore syringes & prints, offered an unmatched variety of rare strains/species, and also sold an “active” product (P. Tampanensis Sclerotia/truffles)(note - these truffles were legal under the Psychotropic substances act).
Despite the success of Hidden Creek, Money was simply not coming in fast enough to please Pollock, and he began to engage in several other quasi-and-outright illegal actions to accelerate the timeline of his research-laboratory build. Some of these endeavours included planting over an acre of Cannabis, performing under-the-table surgery on gunshot victims who did not want their injuries reported to the police, and risking his medical license by prescribing pharmaceuticals like Quaaludes and Preludin (which had recently been regulated) to any patient, in whatever quantity they wanted, as long as they paid in cash.
Pollock worked 7 days a week, from sunrise until late in the evening, and saw so many patients that he often took in amounts in excess of $10,000 in a single day (in addition to profits from Hidden Creek and various other endeavours). For Pollock, this questionable activity was simply a “means to an end” that would allow him to realize his goal of becoming the man who not only brought mushrooms into the closets of clandestine cultivators throughout the world, but also put them on fluorescent-lit pharmacy shelves. Unfortunately for him, the many Hidden Creek customers, and the many individuals who suffer from psilocybin-treatable conditions, this delve into “real” criminality would serve as his undoing.
Stephen Pollocks Book
Ad for Hidden Creek Mushroom Spores
By early 1981, Pollock was on the radar of the DEA (who were surveilling is cannabis plantation), several other enforcement agencies (that wanted to know who was behind hidden creek), and the state pharmacy board (who had recently called a hearing before the Texas Medical Board that would decide the outcome of a several month investigation into Pollocks practice). Pollock was also raising the ire, and suspicions, of his neighbours with a constant stream of “patients” lined up outside of his house, which he operated his medical practice out of.
Unfortunately for the prosecutors of this Medical board hearing, on Saturday, January 31st, 1981, sometime between 9:30 and 11:00 PM Stephen Pollock’s house was broken into and ransacked -- the mattress flipped off the bed frame, pillows slashed, their stuffing strewn about the floor. The furnace door was flung open, the contents of the closets scattered, chairs overturned, drawers rummaged through, papers haphazardly strewn throughout the residence, and the cord of the phone razored from the wall. Pollock was found just after 11:00 PM by his girlfriend (Mitzi Moore), slumped in a supine position next to his medical examination table. Peering through the window (because the door was locked -- which was suspicious because Pollock was known to leave his house unlocked) Mitzi believed he was simply unconscious, knocked out by some sort of explosion originating from one of his many experiments (the same thing had happened just months previously). However when she shone a flashlight in through the window she soon realized that Pollock’s thick cream coloured sweater was soaked with blood, and he had been shot in the forehead at point-blank range.
Fortunately by this time (because of Hidden Creeks success) Pollock’s P. Tamanensis, Penis Envy, and several other rare genetics had already been dispersed throughout the world, otherwise it is likely that these strains/species (or at least Pollocks genetically superior isolations) would have been lost forever! Although Pollock had been selling illegal prescriptions and engaging in several other dubious activities, in the relatively insular world of Mycology many of his colleagues had no knowledge of this, and were extremely surprised to hear of his murder, thinking that it lacked a clear motive. The police chalked it up to a drug-deal gone wrong, and were remarkably uninterested in the case, perhaps even pleased with the demise of Pollock (according to High-Times obituarist Mike Fellner). There were several inconsistencies between the official police report and testimony from Mitzi Moore, and while witness testimony is the least credible form of evidence, one notably inconsistency was the fact that several rare specimens, and several hundred pages of Pollocks notes, research, and patient data were missing from the house, but this was not included in the police report.
There were several additional clues found at the crime scene alluding to the notion that conspiracy was afoot, and that the murder was in fact an assassination -- like a bloody towel in Pollocks bathroom, an unexplained bullet hole in the garage wall, and two mysterious phone calls made on the night of his murder by an unidentified caller, one to pollocks home and one to the local morgue (asking if a doctor had recently been brought into the morgue - suspicious because at the time this call was made Pollocks death had not yet been reported). Even more suspicious is that, for reasons unknown, Bexar-county district attorney at the time (Terry Macdonald) refused to prosecute the case, despite damning evidence in the form of several fingerprints, and DNA evidence found tangled in Pollock's rigor-mortis bound fingers
In the years following his death several outlandish conspiracy theories were concocted, from the American Government/DEA secretly ordering his assassination to prevent the further spread of his Psilocybe genetics, to one of his business partners ordering a hit because Pollock was becoming too openly criminal for Hidden Creek to be legally defensible. Unfortunately since so much time has elapsed, unless a skilled detective is willing to take up this cold-case, we will most likely never know what events occurred during the final moments of Pollock’s life, or what the true motive for his murder was.
Penis Envy Characteristics.
You may, this far into our exposé, be wondering why this strain is called “Penis Envy.”
To answer the first question that may come to mind, No, it does not have anything to do with Mr. Pollock’s endowment. It is simply because, when fresh, Penis Envy mushrooms strongly resemble a phallic object, or in other words, looks like a penis, and a large one at that (hence the term “envy”).
The visual characteristics of this mushroom variety include a large, thick, and exceptionally dense stem that is typically white in colour, and an underdeveloped, bulbous cap that is distinctly more concave (rounded) than most other Psilocybe Cubensis varieties. Additionally, the lack of a velum (veil separating cap and stem) often incites a bubbling mutation just below the mushroom cap that can look similar to a foreskin. Penis Envy mushrooms are also one of the densest varieties of magic mushrooms, and while they are typically shorter in height and smaller overall than other species, they still possess significant weight due to their density.
The psychoactive effects elicited by Penis Envy magic mushrooms are reported to be similar to most other Psilocybe cubensis varieties, with added intensity, and distinctly more “wavy” visual hallucinations (as opposed to other strains like Mazatepec or Hualta which often elicit geometric hallicinatory patterns). These effects can include vivid visual stimulation, intense feelings of euphoria, deep introspection, philosophical thoughts, tremendous joy, distortion of space and time, synesthesia (ie. hearing colours, seeing sounds), 'mystical' or spiritual feelings of connectedness to the universe, and even out of body experiences.
While testing is not accessible to conclusively prove the following theory, it’s thought that Penis Envy mushrooms contain not only higher concentrations*1 of Psychoactive compounds, but a higher ratio of Psilocin to Psilocybin. Psilocin and Psilocybin are the two compounds found in magic mushrooms with the highest concentration*2, and therefore are the two compounds most responsible for the psychedelic effects. Interestingly, it is actually Psilocin, not Psilocybin, that is able to bind with the 5-HT2A receptor in the human brain and cause these effects, however Psilocybin is quickly dephosphorylated into Psilocin by the liver after ingestion.
*1 A typical cubensis mushroom contains somewhere in the neighbourhood of 0.8% to 1.2% active compounds by dry weight
*2 Over 30 other alkaloids have been identified in various Psilocybe species
This higher psilocin:psilocybin ratio effectively serves to make the onset of effects occur slightly sooner and “heavier” when taking Penis Envy mushrooms (since the body does not have to dephosphorylate as much psilocybin into psilocin), however does not affect the overall duration of the experience very much. It is also commonly reported that a penis envy mushroom experience carries less “body load” and leaves the user feeling light, euphoric, energetic, & and unencumbered. To put it succinctly, in a phrase that is possibly a little overused in the psychedelic space, it is a very “clean” mushroom high.
While the recommended dose for most Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is 1.5 grams per 100 pounds of body weight, this should be adjusted by at least 30% for Penis Envy mushrooms, making the recommended dose for Penis Envy mushrooms 1 gram per 100 pounds of body weight. Depending on dosage, your experience level, and the amount of time that has elapsed since your last psychedelic experience, a Penis Envy mushroom trip will last between 6-8 hours, which is similar to other Psilocybe cubensis varieties.
Penis Envy Variations.
The process of creating a mushroom strain hybrid involves inoculating two separate spawn mediums with different mushroom cultures. Once both spawn mediums are colonized, they are mixed together, and mixed with a fruiting medium. When introduced to fruiting conditions the vast majority of the resulting mushrooms will bear significant resemblance to mushrooms of whichever mycelial colony obtained dominance, however some mushrooms located where the mycelial cultures “meet” will have characteristics of both varieties. These mushrooms can then be propagated by tissue culture isolation, and over several generations of propagation, fruiting, then more tissue culture isolation can be refined to consistently display the “new” characteristics.
Beginning in the late 1970s with Stephen Pollock, there have been several entheo-mycologists and genetics vendors who have performed culture isolation/crossing on the Penis Envy strain. This has resulted in several distinguishable sub-variants, such as; Albino Penis Envy (Albino PF x Penis Envy cross), Penis Envy #6 (a mutation), Texas Penis Envy (Texas Orange Caps x Penis Envy cross), Penis Envy Uncut (a mutation), and Trans Envy (Transkei x Penis Envy cross).
Albino Penis Envy
Uncut Penis Envy
The Albino Penis Envy variety has the milky white colouration of the Albino PF variety and its caps are sometimes tinged dark blue. Albino Penis Envy mushrooms are also smaller than Penis Envy mushrooms on average.
Penis Envy Uncut magic mushrooms have a distinct physical feature which is that its caps do not open at all, even late in the mushroom’s maturity. Additionally caps are distinctly darker than “regular” Penis Envy. They are also said to be the most potent of all of the Penis Envy varieties.
Trans Envy magic mushrooms are a variety that have been isolated by a mushroom spore vendor named Spores Lab. They appear closer to a Transkei magic mushroom in appearance with slender yellow-white stems and medium sized caps. This variety is also slightly less potent than other Penis Envy varieties.
While each of these mutations have slightly different physical characteristics and potencies, the potency among all Penis Envy varieties is consistently higher than all other Psilocybe cubensis varieties.
Penis Envy Cultivation.
One downside, and perhaps the only downside to Penis Envy mushrooms is that they are one of the most difficult cubensis varieties to cultivate. This is because (due to their physical characteristics) Penis Envy mushrooms drop very few spores -- therefore a home or commercial cultivator would need quite a few Penis Envy mushrooms in order to collect enough spores to produce a viable spore syringe.
Furthermore, due to the fact that this genetic line has been artificially selected, and would not have survived in nature, Penis Envy mushrooms are also less resistant to contamination, typically take about 25% longer to colonize and pin, have a pin rate that is about ½ that of other Psilocybe cubensis varieties, and need specialized conditions for the incubation stage (such as the addition of a casing layer and a substrate with higher moisture-content).
A Time-Lapse of Albino Penis Envy filmed by PEM.
Fortunately, the genetics of an individual culture play a large role in determining several growing characteristics (like pin rate & colonization speed), so if you purchase Penis Envy spore genetics from a reputable seller, or obtain a petri dish/slant of isolated, known-to-be-good genetics, you can still successfully grow Penis Envy mushrooms!
In summary, the Penis Envy magic mushroom is a very interesting variety of Psilocybe cubensis that human scientific understanding of is actually quite limited. It’s visually distinct, considerably difficult to cultivate, and it’s potency is unmatched within the cubensis genus -- which has resulted in these mushrooms being highly sought after, especially by experienced “Psychonauts”. This high demand/low supply dynamic also means that Penis Envy cultures and mushrooms are valued at a higher amount than other magic mushrooms, with some online vendors selling them for more than $12 per gram!
If you are thinking of cultivating or consuming Penis Envy mushrooms, be sure to prepare yourself accordingly, keeping in mind the paramount importance that mindset & physical environment have in any Psychedelic experience, and get ready to experience a mushroom trip that will make you realize why Penis Envy is the best!
If you are interested in purchasing Penis Envy Mushrooms, check out our shop ;)